This week's opening shot is a close-up of an SUV with two stickers on the back: one's an American flag, and the other says "Support our Troops." We know these are being displayed in an ironic context -- on top of the fact that anything between the title sequence and the closing credits on this show is automatically ironic context. The first bit of context? A young blonde woman, sitting in that SUV in a parking lot, crying. Until she drops her keys into her purse and gets out, at which time we see that the parking lot belongs to a VA hospital. See? Ironic context.
Want more? The blonde woman, now inside the hospital, draws the curtains around the bed of a wounded soldier. How do I know he's wounded? The fact that he's as legless as Ruth's grandmother was my first clue. The stump hanging from his left shoulder was my second. And the maze of scars on the right side of his face was the clincher. Thanks, Six Feet Under, for putting me in a position where I'm expected to make fun of a maimed veteran. Well, forget it. I'm not going to do it. So anyway, the woman asks Private Stumpy, "Are you still sure you wanna do it? Really?" She's not asking amorously, and considering what the first scene of this show is usually about, I have to assume she's talking about the other thing. "Are you?" responds the wounded man. "I brought the thing," she answers. "Then, yeah," he says, seeming disappointed that she's not trying to talk him out of it. At first I thought they were husband and wife, and the wife was being kind of cold about wanting her triple-amputee war vet out of the picture. But we'll learn later that they're actually brother and sister. And it's not the last time this episode will blur the line between spouses and siblings, I assure you. She digs something out of her purse, and he hides it in his bed before we can see what it is. She clasps his remaining hand as he thanks her.
At night, she's gone, but our soldier is still awake. He pulls "the thing" -- which to nobody's surprise turns out to be a huge syringe -- out from under his pillow, bites off the cap, and injects himself in the chest. Looks painful. His breathing gets faster, until it stops entirely, the uncapped syringe still clasped in his fist, which seems kind of dangerous for whoever will end up finding him. But that’s not his problem; it's all over for Paul Ronald Duncan (1983-2005) except for the awarding of the posthumous Purple Heart.
David wakes up to the staticky station on his alarm clock radio. It actually sounds more like someone's spinning the dial than honestly poor reception, but he's alone in bed. Before he shuts off the alarm, he hears a news report about a tall Caucasian man in a hooded sweatshirt (oooh!) abducting a six-year-old girl at a school bus stop. He hits the button to snooze, like that's going to happen. He calls for Keith, but it's Anthony who appears in the doorway to report that Keith and Durrell went out for donuts. "Are you sick?" Anthony asks, standing very still. David throws up in his mouth a bit, then lies that he's fine. Anthony finally approaches the bed, calmly informing David, "My face came off last night." David rather urgently asks Anthony to repeat that. "My face keeps coming off when I go to bed," Anthony says from the foot of the bed, his voice now creepily augmented by a synchronized baritone. Then he jumps up on the bed and scrambles right up at David's face, screaming, "Wake me up!" I get chills.
David wakes up again, apparently for real this time, to another newscast about the body of a child that was recovered in Montana in connection with the same case mentioned before, which now includes reports of a dark-blue Nissan Maxima. Now it's Keith who appears in the doorway, saying he's going to take the kids to school. David thanks him for the extra sleep, and asks if the news reports about "this guy on the loose" are real or if he just dreamed them. Keith confirms that he saw it on the news, and readily agrees to walk the kids into the school when he drops them off. David sits up and rubs his eyes. Keith asks if he's all right. David understates that he just had a bad dream. He adds, "Look, it's been almost six weeks since…you know. And it's time, right? For me to get it together." Keith says that it's time when David feels that it's time. We'll see how long Keith continues to feel that way. He kisses David and heads out with a promise to call after he drops off the boys. By the way, to convey how stressed out David is, even in the secure cocoon of his bed, the cinematographer filmed him in this scene like he was storming Omaha Beach in Saving Private Ryan. Nice touch.